London (CNSNews.com) – In October 1970, near the height of the Vietnam War, President Richard Nixon arrived in Britain for a brief visit during which he met with the prime minister at his country residence and ate mango ice cream with Queen Elizabeth. The five-hour stay caused such “little stir,” according to media reports, that the afternoon television programming kept to scheduled sports instead of covering his departure.
On Thursday, President Trump arrives for his first presidential visit to the country, one that promises to attract significantly more attention, as he meets with the great and good of the country, amid protests from critics on the left.
Upon arrival at London’s Stansted Airport, the president and First Lady Melania Trump are scheduled to visit the U.S. Embassy in London before traveling to Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, Winston Churchill’s birthplace, for a black-tie dinner hosted by Prime Minister Theresa May.
On Friday, he is due to hold talks with May and to travel to Windsor Castle to meet with the Queen.
Aside from visiting the embassy and staying over at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Regent Park on Thursday, the Trumps will mainly avoid the capital, according to the embassy. Protestors have pledged to make the city a showpiece of their anti-Trump “carnival of resistance” planned across the country.
Organizers hope 50,000 participants will turn up for a march through central London on Friday, and police forces have transferred offers to cover expected protest hotspots.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has clashed with the president over his administration’s immigration policies, has come over fire for allowing a giant inflatable replica of Trump depicted as a baby to float over the city during the visit.
Khan told a television interviewer that he “can’t be a censor.” He also said he would have approved the same sort of balloon if it had been modeled on former President Barack Obama.
On Friday night, the Trumps will reportedly fly to Scotland, where his mother was born on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.
His schedule for this leg of the trip has not been made public, although media outlets have speculated that it will include a round of golf at one of the Trump International courses in Scotland.
Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said last month the president should not get “the red-carpet treatment” during his visit. As of Wednesday afternoon, a spokesman for the Scottish government said there were no plans for Sturgeon and Trump to meet.
The devolved Scottish government has wrangled with the central government in London over who will pay for the multi-million dollar cost of policing the visit.
Ruth Davidson, leader of the Conservative Party in Scotland – the official opposition in the Scottish Parliament – has criticized Trump’s immigration policies, and earlier this year said in a magazine interview it would be a “bad idea” for him to visit Scotland.
The party’s press office in Scotland said Wednesday there were no plans currently for members to meet with Trump during his visit.
According to Drew Liquerman, head of the Scottish chapter of Republicans Overseas, although the leadership of the Scottish Conservatives has been hostile to the president, grassroots members are enthusiastic about the visit.
Six Conservative-oriented groups and think-tanks in April publicly called for Trump to ignore London during his visit and to concentrate on Scotland.
They said in a joint letter that the political and media elite in London were “far out of touch with ordinary people on the street,” and that Trump’s family background in Scotland represented a powerful bond.
Liquerman said the trip would resonate with the people of Scotland, and with Britain as a whole, as Britain prepares to leave the E.U.
In the aftermath of its planned exit, Trump has promised that Britain would get a “great” trade deal with the United States.
“It shows we have a U.S. president who cares about the U.K., who cares about making a trade deal,” Liquerman said.